Press Releases

    20 September 2004

    New UN Report Cites Devastating Effects of HIV/AIDS

    NEW YORK, 16 September (Department of Economic and Social Affairs) -- The HIV/AIDS epidemic will have devastating consequences in the decades to come for virtually every sector of society ranging from households and farms, to growth of whole economies, according to a new report, The Impact of AIDS, issued today by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division.

    Without an effective vaccine or cure, or much more effective programmes to prevent the epidemic’s spread, HIV/AIDS will cause as many as 100 million excess deaths in sub-Saharan Africa by the year 2025. The pandemic is also projected to kill 31 million additional people in India and 18 million in China by then.

    HIV/AIDS has emerged as the single most significant population concern among countries of the world, the report says. In most developing countries, especially sub-Saharan Africa, the epidemic is undermining the possibility of achieving the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2000.

    Key Report Findings

    -- HIV/AIDS has a devastating demographic impact. It has already killed over 20 million people.  Between 1980, when the epidemic started emerging, and 2025, HIV/AIDS will cause about 100 million excess deaths, out of 500 million total deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. In India, AIDS is expected to claim 31 million lives over the same period, and 18 million in China.

    -- The burdens of HIV/AIDS on families and households are staggering. During the long period of illness, the loss of income and the cost of caring for family members may impoverish the household.  Adult deaths, especially of parents, often cause the break-up of households, with children being sent to live with relatives or even becoming homeless.

    -- HIV/AIDS seriously threatens the education of children. In households affected by HIV/AIDS, children are often taken out of school to help at home with caregiving or to earn an income. In addition, teachers are also dying of AIDS, eroding the quality of education.

    -- HIV/AIDS threatens the viability of health-care systems. Treating AIDS and related opportunistic infections is placing heavy burdens on the health systems of developing countries.

    -- The loss of farm workers to HIV/AIDS undermines food security. The 10 most severely affected African countries will lose between 10 and 26 per cent of their agricultural labour force by 2020.

    -- HIV/AIDS affects business enterprises as well. Ill workers are less productive, as are those workers who must care for ill family members. The costs of replacing experienced workers and paying health and death benefits is becoming a serious financial drain on businesses.

    -- HIV/AIDS weakens the economy and has begun to stall economic development. Where HIV prevalence is high, experienced workers are lost, and funds for investment may be diverted to pay for health care and support of afflicted families. Lower investment in human capital -- the health and education of the next generation -- will undermine prospects for development for many years to come.

    Immediate and concerted actions to prevent new infections, and treatment and care for people living with HIV/AIDS have become an imperative, the study suggests. “The course of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is by no means pre-determined”, concludes the report. “The eventual course of the disease depends on how individuals, communities, nations and the world respond to the HIV/AIDS threat today and tomorrow.”

    For additional information, please contact the office of Joseph Chamie, Director, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, New York, NY 10017, USA, tel.: (212) 963-3921, (212) 963-3179 or fax (212) 963-2147; Internet:

    The Impact of AIDS (Sales No. E.04.XIII.7 ISBN No.9211513979) is available for $22.50 from United Nations Publications, Two UN Plaza, Room DC2-853, Dept. PRES, New York, NY 10017 USA; tel.: 800-253-9646, fax: 212-963-3489, e-mail:; or Section des Ventes et Commercialisation, Bureau E-4 ,CH-1211, Geneva 10, Switzerland, tel.: 41-22-917-2614, fax: 41-22-917-0027, e-mail:; Internet:

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